Developing Benchmarking Methodologies for Railway Infrastructure Management Companies

Developing Benchmarking Methodologies for Railway Infrastructure Management Companies


R Anderson, R Hirsch, M Trompet, W Adeney, RTSC, Imperial College London, UK



Public transport benchmarking has been growing in use. However, a recent literature review carried out by the authors has revealed that its practical adaptation to the railway industry has largely been confined to either the operation of trains, or the operation of single, vertically integrated railways.

The paper describes methodologies developed and tested for the benchmarking of railway infrastructure companies. Much of the work has been conducted as part of a 5th Framework research project for the European Commission (IMPROVERAIL: IMPROVEd tools for RAILway capacity and access management). The paper will also present results from a pilot project that applies the methodologies and has involved the participation of several national railway infrastructure providers.

It is argued that the benchmarking of complex and heterogeneous railway infrastructure companies presents particular problems. These must be overcome if any benchmarking process is to yield true comparability and thus any practical value. Railway infrastructure company benchmarking is due to become more important following the vertical separation of trains and infrastructure, not only amongst European Union national railways, but also elsewhere in the world where vertical separation is undertaken within public transport.

The approach to benchmarking suggested by the research and applied in the pilot project takes a non-traditional view of railway infrastructure providers, focusing primarily on the concept of entities rather than functions. The traditional view of a railway infrastructure provider is of an organisation made up of a number of separate functions, e.g. operations, engineering, finance, etc. The new approach taken is to look at the entities contained within a railway infrastructure provider. An entity is defined as a product (such as the provision of a defined type of railway infrastructure), an asset or a process. In many cases the management of these entities cuts across functional boundaries and allows analysis of the organisations in a more coherent way.

Having defined the entities to be benchmarked, the paper describes the development of a key Performance Indicato rs system which will be useful to the organisations and which can help to identify cause and effect and best practice.

Specific difficulties in data comparisons relating to different supply / value chains, accounting principles and existing performance measures and practices are discussed.

Measures for normalising performance indicators are also explored. The paper concludes by presenting some of the results of the pilot study and demonstrating how far they confirm the validity of the methodology.


Association for European Transport